Much has been made of Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) election to the U.S. Senate, since by taking the seat held since time immemorial by Ted Kennedy, Brown has effectively squelched congressional Democrats’ “filibuster-proof” 60-seat majority. This has been interpreted variously as rank ineptitude on the part of Brown’s Democratic opponent, former Massachusetts state Attorney General Martha Coakley, and as a “referendum on health care reform” by voters angry with Democratic inaction since they won their majority two years ago.

Lost in these analyses are the different sets of implications for any Democratic coalition in the Senate. Counterintuitively, 59 may be a more powerful majority that 60, at least from the perspective of Democratic party leadership.



Well, it looks like the ever-reliable DNC has folded on the highly-touted Obama campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay. I’m getting a little fed up with this “war on terror”-esque backsliding. The move apparently cuts $80 million from the new Defense spending bill, and it also conveniently avoids the issue of transferring detainees to U.S. soil, much to the delight of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

“We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States.” Asked next, if he could see a day when Guantanamo detainees might be transferred to prisons on American soil, Reid refused to clarify his remarks. “We don’t want them around,” he said.

This reminds me a lot of a George Carlin routine I love:


In recent days, Obama has sent mixed signals himself as he sorts through the complexities of how to bring to trial the remaining prisoners. Republicans have used this confusion to play on the localized fears and emotions of voters about prisoners being transferred to prisons in their states.

UPDATE: Maureen Dowd and Mother Jones’ David Corn and Steve Aquino all decided to go with the NIMBY label on this story, too. You read it here first (although Dowd may have had her column out before I posted this).